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FTSE 100 passes 7,100 mark for first time since February 2020

The FTSE 100 jumped to a new record high since the pandemic struck the UK as trading sentiment improved over the progress of the global economic recovery.

European markets sprang higher at the start of trading as Chinese exports unexpectedly saw growth accelerate last month despite the pandemic and tensions with other countries.

London trading was boosted by the surprisingly good set of figures, while better-than-expected data for the UK construction industry also buoyed sentiment.

London’s top flight closed 53.54 points higher, or 0.76%, at 7,129.71 on Friday.

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “It’s been another solid day for markets in Europe with the Dax and FTSE 100 leading the way, after the latest China trade numbers and some decent earnings reports bolstered confidence over the economic outlook.

“The FTSE 100 had a good day, rounding off another decent week as it closes above 7,100 and its best level since February last year.

“The basic resource sector has led the gains with copper and iron ore prices hitting record highs, with Anglo American and Glencore leading the way.”

The German Dax’s strong performance was particularly driven by earnings upgrades from Adidas and Siemens.

The Dax increased by 1.34% and the French Cac moved 0.45% higher.

Across the Atlantic, traders were shaken as the latest jobs data came in with 266,000 new hires for April compared with Wall Street projections of around one million.

The Dow Jones lifted higher as the poor data hit the dollar heavily.

Meanwhile, sterling benefited from weakness in the US greenback but was cautious against the euro as investors digested initial UK polling data.

The pound increased by 0.76% versus the US dollar to 1.399 and was down 0.08% against the euro at 1.150.

In company news, Holiday Inn owner Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) made gains after it highlighted growth in demand in the US and China.

It closed 72p higher at 5,116p after it said revenue per available room was still heavily down on pre-pandemic levels but that occupancy levels improved during the latest quarter.

Housebuilder St Modwen saw shares soar to their highest in more than a decade after it confirmed that investment giant Blackstone was targeting a £1.2 billion takeover.

The Birmingham-based firm said it was talking with the US private equity firm over due diligence for the move, which would value shares at a 21% premium from Thursday’s close price.

Shares in the business were up 89.5p at 537p on Friday.

BT Group slipped in value ahead of its trading update next week as investors took their profits after it struck a 14-month high on Thursday. It closed 1.6p lower at 169.6p.

The price of oil rebounded marginally higher after two days of losses to leave it positive for the week.

The price of Brent crude oil increased by 0.35% to 68.29 dollars per barrel.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Ocado, up 75p at 1,975p, Anglo American, up 116p at 3,381.5p, Glencore, up 10.45p at 322.75p, and Compass Group, up 51.5p at 1,625p.

The biggest fallers of the day were Antofagasta, down 51p at 1,874p, BT, down 1.6p at 169.6p, HSBC, down 3.95p at 451.2p, and DCC, down 54p at 6,178p.

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